RE: The death of the RTB model

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Tue Feb 21 2006 - 13:58:52 EST

My good friend and able adversary Glenn wrote:
So, why didn't God simply say that? Why the mumbo jumbo and the need
for Dick to tell us what God actually mean to say? (I know Dick, like
Dick, am proud to have him as a friend and think he is one of the finest
fellows on earth), but Dick as God's interpretor is a bit scarey.
Just as I was beginning to enjoy my centipede sandwich with dung beetle
soup I read the above. Well, I'm flattered, I guess? The prospect of
delving into Bible interpretation is scary. John McArthur says those
who take the step of interpreting for others are doubly accountable.
(He is a YEC, however, so obviously double accountability doesn't deter
him from espousing nonsense from time to time.)
Before I wrote my book published in 1996 I had finished a masters degree
in theology and had read every Genesis commentary in the Bishop Paine
library at Virginia Theological Seminary. All commentaries agree on
some passages and differ on others. And to avoid controversy they don't
stick their necks out very far and take chances.
The most recent commentary on Genesis is by Bruce Waltke, who authored
or co-authored many books on Hebrew grammar. In the introduction to his
commentary, on the subject of Mosaic authorship, he writes:
"Having been educated in Pharaoh's court as the son of Pharaoh's
daughter (Ex. 2:1-10), in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth
dynasty (ca. 1400-1300 B.C.), Moses had unique access to the ancient
Near Eastern myths that show close connections with Genesis 1-11. For
example the Atrahasis Epic and the Sumerian flood story, both dated
earlier than 1600 B.C, parallel very closely the thematic content of
Genesis 1-11. The Sumerian king list, similar in pattern in Genesis
5-11, includes a list of antediluvian kings with extravagantly long
reigns (cf. Gen. 5), then a mention of the flood (cf. Gen. 6-9), and
then postdiluvian kings with much shorter reigns down to ca. 1980 B.C
(cf. Gen. 11:10-27). The creation account in Genesis 1 has parallels
with the early second millennium B.C. Babylonian account of creation,
the Enuma Elish. The closest comparison that can be made with Genesis
2-3 is with the Adapa myth. Adapa was summoned to heaven and offered
the bread and water of life. Having been warned by his personal god to
reject such an offer, he declined. The Genesis account of the Flood
also finds striking parallels in ancient Near Eastern myths."
Having stuck his toe in the water, however, Waltke recoils from any
thoughts that Adapa might actually be Adam or that the Genesis flood is
a Hebrew version of the 2900 BC Mesopotamian flood told in Atrahasis,
Ziusudra and the eleventh tablet of Gilgamesh (which he forgot to
include). So Waltke makes an immediate left turn.
"These myths, against whose worldview Genesis 1-11 is in fact a polemic,
were known after Moses' time, so the parallels do not establish Mosaic
authorship of Genesis 1-11, but they existed before his time and Moses
had a unique opportunity to know and rebut them."
Oh, so where we may have thought Genesis had some historical basis to
it, the author (Moses?) reads the Mesopotamian accounts and then
lampoons them in what we have heretofore thought was Holy writ in an
effort to dispel polytheism and establish monotheism. Could have fooled
That's what makes apologetics so tough. You have to draw upon the
combined wisdom of learned authors while avoiding some of their
conclusions when they are catering to the established prejudices of
their constituents whether they be liberal or conservative.
About the tower of Babel, Waltke says: "The setting presents humanity as
unified in both in language (11:1) and habitation (11:2)."
But what does Waltke know? The heading for his entire section on the
tower of Babel is "Escalation of Sin in Babylon (1:1-9)." So he knows
Babylon is the setting for the tower. In another section he states:
"Here with reference to Mesopotamia, which did not have the defensive
stone watch towers of Canaan, it designates the Mesopotamian ziggurat
mountain, with its roots in the earth and its lofty top in the clouds,
served in mythopoetic thought as a gate to heaven (28:17) and served as
a convenient stairway for the gods to come down into their temple and
into the city."
So he knows the tower is in Babylon and was a Mesopotamian ziggurat.
But at the time of ziggurat building from no earlier than 3000 BC, there
were two distinct languages spoken in the same region - Sumerian and
Accadian. (Not to mention what they were speaking in Africa, China,
etc.) So humanity was not "unified in language." How does he not
realize that?
Either he hasn't thought about it enough to see the illogic of his own
interpretation, or else he is implying Genesis says one thing, reality
is something else.
And thus it is with commentaries. What they know about may not coincide
with what they tell you.
Dick Fischer
~Dick Fischer~ Genesis Proclaimed Association
Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
Received on Tue Feb 21 13:59:10 2006

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